Wed, Dec 08, 2004 - Page 3 News List

DPP caucus defends name-change plan

STATUS QUO SOLID Despite the negative reaction from the US, the ruling party's lawmakers are solidly behind their leader, although not all their allies are confident

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) plan for a national name change would not violate his inauguration pledges and would not alter the status quo, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative caucus said yesterday.

Chen announced three days ago that the government would change the names of government agencies, including overseas representative offices and embassies, and state-owned businesses to "Taiwan" within two years.

But the US Department of State has reacted cooly to the idea, saying it considered it a move to "unilaterally change Taiwan's status."

DPP caucus whip Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said the US has misunderstood Chen's proposal and Washington should consider the name change. If the US really understood the essence of the change, Tsai said, it would respect this move as a domestic issue.

"As soon as the US understands that the name change does not violate Chen's inauguration pledges nor touch on the independence issue, the US will respect Taiwan's right to deal with our own domestic issue," Tsai said.

The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) legislative caucus, however, had doubts about Chen's intentions. It said he should form a consensus within the DPP before proceeding with the name-change plan.

TSU Legislator Lo Chih-ming (羅志明), director of TSU's legislative caucus office, issued a written statement saying that some DPP politicians, such as National Security Council Secretary-General Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) and Legislator Shen Fu-hsiung (沈富雄) have doubts about the feasibility of the name change.

Lo said Chen should smooth out the differences before moving forward.

"I hope that President Chen can unify opinion within the DPP and work to make a new constitution and correct the nation's title instead of just using this as an election strategy," Lo said.

"Otherwise voters should vote for the TSU and allow it to supervise the DPP administration to realize the promise of correcting the title," he said.

Lo said that the Republic of China's (ROC) seat in the UN was taken over by the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1971, and what Beijing really cares about is defending the legitimacy of China as the only legal representative internationally.

For this reason, Taiwan had to strip the "emperor's new clothes," and push for "correcting the name of Taiwan" to clearly draw a line between Taiwan and China.

Lo said that if one dares not touch the issue of "correcting the name of the nation" because the US and China think it is a taboo issue, then Taiwan cannot be thought of as an independent, sovereign country.

The TSU also argued with the People First Party (PFP) legislative caucus over the name- change idea, with each demanding the other withdraw from Saturday's election.

The PFP caucus said that since the TSU wanted to terminate the ROC, the TSU should withdraw from the ROC's elections.

"President Chen has figured that the TSU is on the rise, so he has started to play around with the name rectification issue. This is only a campaign strategy to compete for votes with the TSU," said PFP caucus whip Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄).

"But if it is possible to change the names of overseas representative offices and embassies, why hasn't the DPP done so already?" Liu said.

PFP Legislator Hsu Yuan-kuo (許淵國) also demanded that TSU candidates withdraw from the poll since the party wanted to "elimi-nate" the ROC. He said that even if a TSU candidate won a seat, he or she would not be able to take the oath to "follow the Constitution faithfully and be loyal to the country."

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